How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain

There are two major mountains to hike at Machu Picchu ~ the treacherous Huayna Picchu (the mountain you see most often in photos), & the very TALL Machu Picchu Mountain.  These two peaks are located on opposite sides of the ruins, & both require making a reservation in order to hike them.  This post will tell you everything you need to know about how to hike Machu Picchu Mountain.  Though it’s a longer hike, I LOVE it because you have iconic Huayna Picchu framing all of your photos…not to mention, you get one helluva good workout!

What is Machu Picchu Like for Female Travel? How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

Just two girls, about to hike 2,000+ feet….

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain in Peru, Girl Who Travels the World

This photo was taken at the top of Huayna Picchu, & you can see how Machu Picchu Mountain is far taller, & on the opposite side of the citadel.

Get Prepared

I’ll never forget standing in line at the Machu Picchu entrance, staring at some of the WORST sunburns & HUGEST mosquito bites I’d ever seen!!  You’re in the jungle here, meaning the bugs can be OUT-OF-CONTROL, & you’re also at 8,000+ feet in altitude: meaning the sun is incredibly strong.  As such, here are the top 4 things you need when hiking here: 1) Sunscreen with SPF 50+, 2) Collapsible Trekking Sticks, 3) Small backpack that holds water & keeps it COOL, & 4) Insect repellent.


Machu Picchu Mountain Hike Details:

  • Starting Point: Machu Picchu Mountain Warden’s Hut (approx. 30 mins from main entrance)
  • Entrance Times for Machu Picchu Mountain: Either 7-8AM, or 9-10AM. Meaning you need to be at the hike entrance during those 2 time slots ~ WITH your passport!!
  • Elevation at Top of Machu Picchu Mountain: 10,007 feet (3,050 meters) 
  • Elevation Gain: 2,139 feet (652 meters)
  • Total Hike Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Time: 2-4 hours
  • Kid-friendly: No
  • Crowded: Moderate
  • Best Time to Go: Dry season (June-September)
  • All Seasons? Be careful in rainy season, as this trail can become very slippery & dangerous
  • Do You Need to Buy Tickets in Advance? YES. You need to purchase a combination ticket for entrance to BOTH Machu Picchu itself, as well as the Machu Picchu Mountain hike.  Buy tickets here.

How to Get to the Hike Entrance

How do you reach the entrance of the Machu Picchu Mountain hike?  Once you enter the Main Entrance for Machu Picchu, follow signs towards the upper trail, the “Guardhouse,” & the popular “Sun Gate” (aka “Inti Punku”).  Just before reaching the Guardhouse, turn right & climb up through agricultural terraces to the Warden’s Hut (entrance to the hike).  Note that this is a 30-minute climb, just to reach the entrance.

At the Warden’s Hut, you’ll need to show two things: 1) Your passport, & 2) Your entrance ticket.  Sign in the guest book, & then you’re off & climbing!  Get ready for some MAJOR cardio!!How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

See how high above Machu Picchu we’re getting?? You can only get these kind of high-angle shots when climbing Machu Picchu Mountain.

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

These are the kind of steps you’ll take: they’re stone, uneven, & typically filled with other hikers! Often (like in this section), there are no guard rails, so being sure-footed & confident is a MUST!!

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

My friend Tasha & I about half-way about Machu Picchu Mountain. You’ll get some STUNNING viewpoints along the way!!

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain

The distance of the Machu Picchu Mountain hike is deceptive: it’s only 1.2 miles to the top.  Easy, right?  Not exactly, because you’ll gain 2,300 feet in that one mile!!  If you’re not familiar with hiking, that’s a HUGE elevation gain, & it means the trail is remarkably steep the entire way.  If you’re afraid of heights or not an avid hiker, you may want to skip this hike!  There are huge drop-offs & no guard rails in many places ~ so definitely leave the kids behind here. 

GWTW Tip: If you’re hiking Machu Picchu Mountain, TAKE THE BUS up to the main entrance!!  DO NOT hike up from Aguas Calientes, unless you’re a savage fitness enthusiast.  That’s a 2,000+ foot climb….so unless you want to hike 4,000+ feet in one day: take the bus.

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

Almost there….

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

Tasha on TOP!! Due to time constraints, we had less than TWO HOURS to get to the top. Meaning: WE HAD TO HAUL ASS!!!  Definitely one of the best & most challenging workouts of my life.

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, Girl Who Travels the World

Look how TINY the citadel of Machu Picchu looks from this high up (2,300 feet above the ruins)!!

Video of Machu Picchu Mountain Hike

The second-half of the video shows the journey to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain.

Click PLAY below to watch the epic journey to Machu Picchu…

Follow me on YouTube HERE! 

How to Hike Machu Picchu Mountain!

That’s a wrap on how to hike to Machu Picchu Mountain.  If you have any questions about the hike, please ask me in the comments below!  And after such a strenuous hike, I highly recommend rewarding yourself with a hot shower & maybe even a massage at one of the many beautiful, luxury hotels in Agua Calientes ~ which I cover in the article below!

xoxo Noelia 

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